Week Five of the iRacing.com saw the Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series visit historic Watkins Glen, NY for half a dozen races on the 3.4 mile, 11 turn “Boot” version of the circuit. Despite seeing his undefeated streak broken at Road Atlanta two weeks ago, Christian Aranha arrived at The Glen in complete control of the overall standings . . . and eyeing the grand prize of the series: a 3 day racing school courtesy of Skip Barber. On the other hand, 92 sim racers had their eyes set on Aranha in Week Five. Suffice to say, with his performance at Watkins Glen he was able to re-claim his nickname, the “Flawless Floridian”.
The morning race (10:00 GMT) was an eye opener for the field, as Aranha marked his turf early by being the fastest qualifier of the week to grab the pole position. Aranha then won in his regular fashion, leading all 25 laps en route to a 132 point payday. Jan Niesiolowski started second and may have had something for Aranha, but we’ll never know as he spun out on the first lap while battling for the lead. Marco Corti took advantage of Niesiolowski’s misfortune to secure second place roughly 38 seconds back of Aranha, and Ian Bevan finished third just over a minute behind in the 2096 Strength of Field (SoF) race.
The afternoon races (20:00 GMT) saw three exciting splits, with Aranha dominating the first (2177 SoF). Aranha won in similar fashion to his earlier victory (leading all 25 laps while starting from the pole position) but this time Niesiolowski kept it on the road and finished second, just over 11 seconds back. Battling to the finish line for third, Wade Hayward edged Ermanno Palumbo2 by a little more than half a second to take the final podium spot. Aranha’s victory in this higher SoF race earned him 136 points on the week, as he dropped the 132 points he collected from his morning win, while Niesiolowski and Hayward earned 127 and 119 points, respectively, for their efforts.
The second split of the afternoon races was the Stuart Adcock Show, as he stamped his mark on the field and showed he is still a contender at the top of the overall standings. The Englishman led all 25 laps of his 2239 SoF race to earn 140 points – four more than Aranha took from his highest win earlier in the day. Corti (second) and Luca Zanetti (third) added 130 and 121 points to their totals, respectively.
The third split of the afternoon arguably produced the closest racing yet seen in the series. In contrast to the run of flag-to-flag wins, the 2245 SoF split feature a bevy of lead changes – six to be exact – throughout 25 lap race. Championship contenders Kurt Krumm and Xavier Busoms both swapped the lead, taking the point for 15 and 10 laps respectively. Krumm seemed in control during the first ten laps, as he only surrendered the lead to Busoms on Lap Two. Lap 11 saw Busoms make his climb to the top of the totem pole, and he was able to outrace Krumm until regained the lead on Lap 24.
“We were side-by-side entering yet again, but I was able to hold him off . . .” — Kurt Krumm
“On the penultimate lap, I got a good run out of Turn One and made my move down the inside coming into the chicane,” said Krumm. “We entered side by side, and I just barely squeaked by. Now the pressure was on! I finished that lap well, but Xavier closed quickly in the Esses on the final lap. I defended by sticking right all the way from the Esses to the chicane. We were side-by-side entering yet again, but I was able to hold him off and avoid any mistakes to finish out in first.”
Krumm earned 140 points for his victory while Busoms was rewarded with 130 points for a strong and patient drive that left him .2s adrift of the winner. Twelve seconds back came the final podium finisher, Jeroen Ganzeveld who earned 121 points for his run.
The first of the two night race (2:00 GMT) splits went to another polesitter, Duncan Coppedge, who lead all 25 laps en route to his victory over podium finishers Mike McCormick and Joseph Peak. Coppedge unfortunately won in the lowest SoF race of the week (1987) and only earned 125 points for his win, while McCormick and Peak collected 118 and 111 points respectively for their podium efforts.
The second split, which featured a SoF of 2003 was one of the most interesting contests of the week. Polesitter Curtis Fung took off from the starting grid and never looked back, leading all 25 laps for a 126 point payday. Perhaps even more impressive was championship contender Jim Shedlick’s march to second from the back of the pack, as he started 15th after failing to qualify for the race.
Shedlick put his head down and motored through the field, jumping to ninth on the opening lap, sixth on Lap Two and moving into second spot by the fifth tour. Despite his rapid progress, Shedlick quickly realized he had two chances of catching Fung: slim and none.
“At the start I was pretty aggressive and had some luck and managed to make it from 15th to second in five laps,” he said. “At that point Curtis had a 10 second lead and great pace, so I just cruised.”
Andrea Ventura rounded-out the podium positions, finishing just over 27 seconds back of Fung.
In two weeks the iRacing.com Skip Barber Racing School Premier Series will make its mark during Week 6 at Brands Hatch. Aranha still has complete control over first place in the standings, leading Adcock and Krumm by 41 points with Marco Corti 55 points back in fourth after a consistent string of podium finishes at Watkins Glen. Race winner Coppedge sits in fifth, 93 points off of Aranha’s pace. So as the series heads “across the pond” for the first time, all eyes are focused on Christian Aranha, the Flawless Floridian, to see if he can continue his winning ways.